NSF Funded PETROLERN to Develop a Disruptive Downhole Tool for Direct Measurement of In-Situ Stresses

Drastically Improving Safety, Efficiency and Economics of Subsurface Operations

Geomechanics - Petrolern

Atlanta-based technology company Petrolern received funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a unique downhole stress measurement technology, called DFISSTM, that can directly measure magnitude and orientation of all in-situ stress components in deep rock formations. Precise knowledge of principal in-situ stresses is a requirement for safe and cost-effective subsurface operations such as drilling, well stimulation, oil and gas production, EOR, Enhanced Geothermal Systems, CO2 sequestration, and subsurface monitoring. Apart from the significant safety and environmental risk, the lack of sufficiently reliable knowledge of the in-situ stress state costs the energy industry several billions of dollars every year. These losses are associated with non-productive time during drilling, improper well design, failed stimulation treatments, erroneous fracture dimension/direction prediction, parent and child wells misplacement, well integrity issues, poor reservoir performance and, most importantly, inaccurate risk assessment. 

Stress measurement in formations deeper than 1,000 feet is an unsolved problem in the subsurface engineering realm. "All available techniques for stress determination in deep wells provide indirect estimates by measuring other parameters (mainly deformation and pressure response). Normally, there are large uncertainties in stress predictions since these techniques rely on oversimplified evaluations and unrealistic assumptions," states Dr. Hamed Soroush, Petrolern's founder and CEO. "These uncertainties limit our capability to accurately evaluate and forecast subsurface risks such as caprock/seal integrity, induced seismicity, CO2 leakage from the sequestration reservoir, and production loss from oil and gas or geothermal reservoirs."

The innovative design of DFISSTM enables direct measurement of stresses at any depth in any well trajectories (vertical, deviated, and horizontal). The tool's modular design enables running it on wireline, drill-pipe or coil tubing; thus, measurements can be done during drilling, while logging or during well stimulation. This technology will have a huge impact in terms of improved accuracy of the designs and models used for subsurface operations in the oil and gas, geothermal, and carbon storage industries. DFISSTM provides a novel solution to one of the largest challenges in geomechanical modeling of deep formations.

Dr. Soroush remarks, "Despite the advancement in analytical and numerical solutions for stress estimation and the considerable efforts spent on developing advanced simulation platforms for geomechanical modeling, the importance of direct measurements of stresses to calibrate the models has been overlooked. Due to the current need for drilling longer and deeper wells and public requirement for minimizing the environmental footprint of energy-related operations, it is expected that the developed technology will rapidly gain popularity among service providers and operating companies."

Petrolern is a leading-edge technology company working on subsurface solutions for CCUS, geothermal, and cleaner oil. We conduct R&D to improve safety and reduce the environmental footprint of subsurface operations. Our green energy initiative begins with making the oil and gas industry greener.